Two Wrongs Don’t Make One Right

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:11-21

11 You have made me act like a fool. You ought to be writing commendations for me, for I am not at all inferior to these “super apostles,” even though I am nothing at all.
12 When I was with you, I certainly gave you proof that I am an apostle. For I patiently did many signs and wonders and miracles among you.
13 The only thing I failed to do, which I do in the other churches, was to become a financial burden to you. Please forgive me for this wrong!
14 Now I am coming to you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you. I don’t want what you have—I want you. After all, children don’t provide for their parents. Rather, parents provide for their children.
15 I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me.
16 Some of you admit I was not a burden to you. But others still think I was sneaky and took advantage of you by trickery.
17 But how? Did any of the men I sent to you take advantage of you?
18 When I urged Titus to visit you and sent our other brother with him, did Titus take advantage of you? No! For we have the same spirit and walk in each other’s steps, doing things the same way.
19 Perhaps you think we’re saying these things just to defend ourselves. No, we tell you this as Christ’s servants, and with God as our witness. Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you.
20 For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior.
21 Yes, I am afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.

INTRODUCTION

I think Paul would agree with Robert Tasker, that all self-praise is folly. It is absolutely futile, foolish and fruitless to commend one’s self, as my mother would say, “to tute your own horn.” Yet Paul not only commends himself, again and again, he blames the Corinthians for his folly. In verse 11, he says, “You have made me act like a fool.” No, they did not make Paul do anything: it was his choice. I am not offended by Paul’s weakness. He was human. I am actually encouraged by the honestly of God’s word and the glaring weakness revealed in Paul’s life. Paul was not perfect. I have no doubt that Paul made more contributions to Christianity than anyone this side of the cross but he was not perfect. I admire him but I do not worship him.

With this thought in mind, let us proceed to the message at hand.

I. FIRST, I WANT TO ADDRESS PAUL’S WEAKNESS

  1. He commends himself which is not good. He did so because the Corinthians were not defending him when his name came under criticism by the “Super Apostles.” It is only natural that we want our friends to defend and commend us. It doesn’t happen much but from time to time, it feels good to have someone got to bat for you but it is rarely a good idea to go to bat for yourself.
  2. Paul reacts to criticism that I think should be ignored. I’m not saying it is wrong to react to any criticism but we can react to all. A preacher has to understand the nature of criticism. No one is above criticism. If they criticized Jesus, they will criticize us. You cannot prevent it from happening. You cannot live above it and it is not wise to respond to every criticism. You will spend your time dealing with criticism instead to doing what God has called you to do. We cannot prevent folks from questioning our motives or criticizing our methods.
  3. Paul became too concerned with public opinion. Say what you will, but when we do not care what others think, we do not respond to every criticism. When a man says that he does not care what others think but then responds to every criticism, there is a contradiction. I suppose we all care what people think and what they are saying but we must come to that place of spiritual maturity where it doesn’t matter. I cannot control what others think or say so it does not matter. I cannot afford to waste my time and energy on something that does not matter.

II. THERE IS THE MATTER OF PAUL’S INSECURITY

20 For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior.
21 Yes, I am afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.

You see the phrase, “I am afraid,” three times in the NLT. The NIRV breaks it down into six:

  1. I’m afraid that when I come I won’t find you as I want you to be.
  2. I’m afraid that you won’t find me as you want me to be.
  3. I’m afraid there will be arguing, jealousy and fits of anger.
  4. I’m afraid you will separate into your own little groups. Then you will tell lies about each other. You will talk about each other.
  5. I’m afraid you will be proud and cause trouble.
  6. I’m afraid that when I come again my God will put me to shame in front of you.

Another approach is to study Paul’s list of words:

  1.  Quarreling (eris), strife, wrangling, contention, rivalry, competiton for place and prestige.
  2.  Jealousy (zelos), envy, the desire to have what does not belong to us, wanting what others have. [Barclay: envy is the characteristic of a mean and little mind]
  3.  Anger (thumoi), outburst of sudden anger, an explosion of passionate anger, uncontrolled anger.
  4.  Selfishness (eritheia), electioneering or intriguing for office, jocking for position.
  5.  Slander (katalalia), defamation of character, evil speaking, backbiting
  6.  Gossip (psithyrismos), whispering, secret slander, murmuring
  7.  Arrogance (physiōsis), puffed up, loftiness, pride, conceit
  8. Disorderly behavior (akatastasia), instability, a state of disorder, disturbance, confusion

Paul was afraid they might not have not given up your old sins.

  1. Impurity (akatharsia) impurity in thought and deed, lustful, luxurious, profligate living
  2. Sexual Immorality (porneia), illicit sexual intercourse, perversion
  3. Lustful Pleasure (aselgeia), unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence [NIV-debauchery, Holman-promiscuity, NASB-sensuality]

Barclay says that Corinth was such a wicked city that adultery was not even considered a sin. The Corinthians believed it was natural for a man to pursue and satifify his lust.

III. MY FINAL POINT IS HAS TO DO WITH THE SHORT-SIGHTED THINKING OF THE CORINTHIANS: THEY BLEW AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE A PARTNER IN PAUL’S MINISTRY

You may think that I am overly critical of Paul but that is not the case. The Corinthians Church, not Paul, was the loser. Robert Tasker believes the Corinthians had accused Paul and his associates of dipping into the funds collected for Jerusalem. I wonder if there was not some resentment about the offering in the first place. The bottom line, according to Paul own testimony, is that the Corinthians never supported Paul financially, a fact that Paul mentions more than once. The attitude of the Corinthains toward Paul in regards to money was very unwise. The church made a horrible mistake in not becoming a part of Paul’s ministry. They were selfish and shortsighted.

  • I may have influenced a hundred [MAYBE] or so to Christ…
  • Junior Hill, our friend, has influenced thousands…
  • The Grahams, Billy and Frankling, have influenced millions…
  • The Apostle Paul has influences billions…

We are partners with Junior and with the Grahams although we have not given a lot to either, we have given some but we cannot be partner’s with Paul, that time frame has passed but the Corinthians could have been and yet they choose not to be. It doesn’t make sense.

Someone tried to get my wife to donate above the price of the item we were purchasing and they said it goes to St. Jude’s. She said, “That’s OK, but I have already donated, I mailed them a check today.” She has done this for 30 years. It’s only $360 per year but after 30 years, that amounts to $10,800. She also supported a child or two through WORLD VISION INTERNATIONAL. That was $30 per month from birth to high school graduation. I can tell you right now that what she has donated is far more than she has in savings right now but that doesn’t matter, the long term dividends will far out weight the short term sacrifice.

Why do people horde when they could help? Short-sighted thinking. Some will accuse me of trying to slick folks out of their savings; hey, I’m not trying to slick talk you out of anything–I am trying to challenge your mind, your thinking. A small sacrifice today can produce a huge reward later.

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